Broker Check

Local Financial Advisers Say Not to Panic As Dow Falls Again

Tuesday, March 03, 2009 6:24 PM

By Bob Holliday, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

Mar. 3--BLOOMINGTON -- Financial advisers agreed Monday even though Dow Jones industrial average plunged below 7,000 for the first time in more than 11 years, the worst thing investors can do is panic.

"The first time a farmer has a bad year, he doesn't sell all of his farm ground," said financial adviser Josh Hardt with Edward Jones in Normal.

The markets will recoup, Hardt said, adding "at some point the sun will shine again."

Monday clearly wasn't that day, however, as investors grew increasingly pessimistic about the economy. That concern pushed the Dow below 7,000 for the first time since Oct. 28, 1997. The Dow's 6,763 close was a drop of nearly 300 points and a far cry from its record high of 14,164 in October 2007.

But neither Hardt or financial adviser David Stokes of Edward Jones in Bloomington, would speculate on how low the Dow could go.

"Obviously, we have no crystal ball. Most predictions are wrong," said Stokes. He said consumer confidence is what has driven the market lower and that can change overnight.

Hardt put it this way: "If six months ago you'd asked me if the Dow would drop to 7,000, I'd have said no."

While investors shouldn't panic, they should review their accounts to make sure they know if their money is invested for the long- or short-term, Stokes said.

Hardt, meanwhile, said none of his clients had called by mid-day Monday to move their money out of the market. "I'd like to think I've trained them well," he said. "Most of those who remain invested in stocks are in it for the long run."

But Thomas Green, a certified financial planner and owner of Green Financial Group in Streator, had fielded some calls.

"They (customers) are asking questions about how low it can go," said Green. But he said the bigger issue is really how soon people need their money, because the market will recoup.

Green agreed with Hardt and Stokes that there is no way to speculate on when the market will rebound.

"We have to find a bottom first and then test it two or three times," he said.